City of Heroes is a unique game because it allowed you to be anything you could imagine and completely define your own look and background story. Anyone could play together no matter what level or gear. You could adjust the difficulty to make it as easy or hard as you wanted. It had the most and some of the best content of any MMO I have seen, even beating WoW. And it didn't try to be WoW. Players could and did write their own quests and add their own bases and to the game.
It 's publicity was virtually non-existent and it had an aging game engine, but despite being older than WoW and several newer SuperHero MMOs, it was the most popular and it has a great community.
It was really weird how NCsoft shut the game down out of the blue, the next expansion was in beta.
Thanks for writing the article, it does contain a few errors. As far as the player community can determine, the game was profitable, and NCsoft never said otherwise. We can only guess at the real reasons. And the in-game currency is called Paragon Points.
I suggest you check your facts a bit better than this. NCSoft's revenues from Aion fell off a cliff and they decided to retrench and concentrate on what they do best (making games for the Eastern market). There is no suggestion that CoH wasn't profitable, although Paragon studios may have been losing money as a significant number of staff there had been working on an unrelated project for a while which was still a long way from generating any money.
First of all, as a member of the CoH community, thanks for telling part of our story.
Secondly, as nearly as any of us can tell--looking over NCsoft's financial reports thoroughly--CoH wasn't losing money. It apparently wasn't making as much money as NCsoft wanted. Additionally, there has been much speculation amongst the fanbase that NCsoft, a Korean company, wanted to refocus on Korean interests. There's nothing wrong with that, if it happens to be true, but it may mean that a venerable MMO franchise is about to be terminated before its time.
To that end, we've begun efforts to prove to the MMO community, and the gaming community at large, that our game is too vibrant (and potentially too profitable) to die. Aside from the usual letter-writing campaigns, there have been numerous in-game rallies. We even crowdfunded a $1000 dinner for the newly-jobless developers at Parago Studios...and we did so in a scarce three hours.
Watch us closely--the rumor is that this weekend, we'll be launching another new initiative.
However, you were incorrect about one thing. There was no hint that City of Heroes wasn't making money. Was it making tens of millions a quarter? No. But it was still profitable for an 8 year old game with around 100,000 subscribers. Was Paragon Studios profitable? Maybe not right at the end there. They had 80 people working in the NorCal economy. And more, a significant chunk of them had been pulled off CoH for several new projects that NCSoft killed.
The realignment of focus has more to do with NCSoft's traditional bread and butter. The asian grindfest market. That's where they're making most of their money, and after Aion's huge downward spike, they felt the need to consolidate their holdings in things they knew.
CoH, while it was WELL cared for under the NCSoft aegis, wasn't really understood. It's a niche product for a cultural staple peculiar to Western, mainly American, society.
Also, take a look at the other titles that NCSoft has mothballed. All of them, to a one, compensated their players with game time in other games, making CoH a first for obtaining actual, voluntary refunds.
Basically NCSoft blinked. They'd forgotten that, usually, 1% or less of customers (the disgruntled ones) tend to make up 90+% of the noise. So not a lot of "noise" was coming from CoH. As such the community was relatively small and "dead" and wouldn't object too hard to a closure.
Bzzt! They forgot that the satisfied majority seldom speak out. And this abrupt announcement served as a wake up call to these people. Who'd been spending over eight years living a superhero idea. To say that NCSoft was caught off guard by strength and breadth of the reaction from the CoH community is an understatement. They basically gave these people an entire three day weekend to suck it up, organize and act, then were caught flat-footed by the response.
This isn't the end.
We're a mere three weeks into a 13 week closure. And negotiations for the future of the game are ongoing. This ain't over till it's over. And maybe even not then.
Did the author of this even bother to fact check? City of Heroes was bringing in steady profits. "The Authority On Tech" my eye! Pay no mind to these "journalists" with no understanding or empathy for a closely-knit MMO community on the verge of oblivion.
Paragon Studios is all by dissolved, it's NCSOFT that shut THEM down and dropped this bomb on us and the developers so abruptly with all the subtlety of a chainsaw to the crotch. The LEAST that NCSOFT could have done was refund those late subscribers. Should there be no resolution to sell the game to another, more responsible publisher, they will not hear the end of this from our scorned community. Their reputation in the Western Market was already questionable, they can't imagine what it'll be like if we have to really lay in the pressure.
Naysayers be damned! We will not go away quietly!
We are Heroes. This is what we do!
These people (or person on multiple accounts) who tells the author to fact check because CoH makes a profit really need to reread the article. No where does the author say that the game doesn't make a profit, what the author says is "Clearly, the model wasn't sustaining the company".
What these people (person) needs to understand is just about any business requires a minimum profit margin to consider a product successful. Even if CoH is making a profit, if the profit isn't much compared to the capital put into the game, that can indeed be seen as unsustainable.
To the OP, thank you for helping us continue to spread the word about our game. NCSoft issuing refunds, not Paragon Studios.
To Vorador2: Actually, the IP and code belong to NCSoft, not Paragon Studios. It's not Paragon's call to release the IP, source code, or any information regarding the game closure or their secret project without say-so from NCSoft. Paragon is held under an NDA still.
City of Heroes was in the black, unlike Aion (in the Western market). NCSoft decided to realign their focus, and many of us understand why they wouldn't want to keep City, a niche Western market, in their portfolio anymore. Until this point, NCSoft has been quite good to the City fanbase and franchise, and we can argue that it's in everyone's best interest for them to negotiate with Paragon Studios to release the IP, source code, etc so PS can move on as an indie studio.
Hyperstrike, please please please get your facts correct:
"No. But it was still profitable for an 8 year old game with around 100,000 subscribers."
If there were 100,000 subscribers then the financials would be a lot healthier... try in region of $5million per quarter instead of $2.5million/quarter
"Also, take a look at the other titles that NCSoft has mothballed. All of them, to a one, compensated their players with game time in other games, making CoH a first for obtaining actual, voluntary refunds."
Going to call bullcrap on this one. I have *repeatedly* posted that NCsoft have *always* given refunds on unused subscription ON TOP of giving players game accounts (and game time) for other games. In this case right now, the CoX players are getting shafted by not having the option of other game accounts being awarded to them. Sure they might not want them, but they *are* getting a "worse deal" than former Auto Assault and Tabula Rasa players.
So please please please, get your facts sorted before you go spouting off on a wrong course.
In response to wildkitten: You included a quote from the first of the paragraph but didn't mention the part at the end that others are disagreeing with. "...presumably because the MMO wasn't turning a profit."
The servers have been purchased long ago and the initial engine creation would have been paid for by now. There have been updates to it but I don't think anything as substantial as working on something from the ground up. Really the biggest debt that Paragon would have is the facilities (Both building and equipment), the people, and the balance from the IP purchase from Cryptic. Anything else is not a constant.
It's also puzzling the way the closure happened. Usually there is a vibe with MMOs that you know are having a hard time staying solvent. You have server consolidations and worker terminations. The most I've heard from Paragon was some employees were shifted towards others projects, which businesses do all the time to meet deadlines. It seems that CoX had a devoted and stable player base much like EvE Online. Not huge but enough to do what needs to get done. I've also been away awhile, so I admit I don't have ear to the ground as many of the current players. When I was on the biggest news was Matt Miller taking over from Jack Emmert and the departure of CuppaJo (April Burba) to Tabula Rasa.
It seems that the mob logic has agreed that this had more to do with focusing on Asia specific development than the actual financials of the studio itself. They seem content to service the Asia market and anything that comes outside of that is extra. But that conclusion doesn't factor in Arenanet. I don't know where they stand with NCSoft. Are they autonomous as long as they produce growth? Are they strictly supervised with every little thing needing to be approved? Where does Nexon come into the picture. While a minority holder they probably do have a fair amount of input and CoX certainly isn't the type of game they would support.
I will really miss CoH, it was the only MMO that I've stuck with for its entire life. Sure, I've stopped and restarted playing a few times over the years, but CoH was beautiful in the fact that you could do that and come back and not be totally left behind in gear to the point where you couldn't play with your friends. CoH is the only MMO that I ever came back to after I stopped playing it for a few months. Their exemplar and sidekick systems were excellent and allowed you to play easily with your low level or high level friends and allowed both the casuals and more hardcore players to play together. Their merits system made it worthwhile to go back and do the old task forces so low level content wasn't ignored once it was out-leveled.
I really liked the IO system that came out because it allowed you to, when combined with powerset selection, make your characters behave very much how you wanted them to or to fix inherent weaknesses of each powerset such as 2 ft walls vs stone tanks or knockdown vs fire tanks (rather than every Tank class being more or less copies of each other like in most MMOs). This, along with a phenomenal character creator, allowed for just awesome levels of character customization that allowed you to create characters that were truly your own. It was rare, unless you took a forums cookie-cutter build, to run into someone else who played and looked exactly like you did, unlike most other MMOs where everyone looks related and has the same powers. I've yet to play any other MMOs that had this level of choice, the skill-tree based MMOs seem to offer a lot of choice, but unfortunately most of them are so poorly balanced it isn't long before there's only a few acceptable builds for each task (dps, tank, healer).
Finally, I really liked the combat system, it was so much faster paced than the standard MMO combat of pull, beat on mob for 30-60 seconds, pull again. Coming from EQ when I started CoH it was a very welcome change from the Tab-auto-attack system of play (or as a wizard, stand up, cast 1 spell, sit down). In a sea of EQ-clones, WoW and WoW-clones, this active, fast-paced, combat was very enjoyable to me I truly felt powerful playing my character and that my choices and actions more greatly affected the outcome than the MMO's RNG (which is probably why I enjoy Tera now, which is admittedly a niche MMO as well). Similar to the combat system, the buffs were so very powerful and gameplay changing, a Force Field bubbler could make your team nigh-indestructible, a kinetics would turn your team into a damage powerhouse with speed boost and fulcrum shift, again a welcome change from EQ where the very best cleric buffs maybe reduced incoming damage a few percent (compared to force field, once fully slotted, making it so the mob missed 90-95% of the time).
........Finally, I really liked the combat system, it was so much faster paced than the standard MMO combat of pull, beat on mob for 30-60 seconds, pull again. Coming from EQ when I started CoH it was a very welcome change from the Tab-auto-attack system of play (or as a wizard, stand up, cast 1 spell, sit down). In a sea of EQ-clones, WoW and WoW-clones, this active, fast-paced, combat was very enjoyable to me I truly felt powerful playing my character and that my choices and actions more greatly affected the outcome than the MMO's RNG (which is probably why I enjoy Tera now, which is admittedly a niche MMO as well). Similar to the combat system, the buffs were so very powerful and gameplay changing, a Force Field bubbler could make your team nigh-indestructible, a kinetics would turn your team into a damage powerhouse with speed boost and fulcrum shift, again a welcome change from EQ where the very best cleric buffs maybe reduced incoming damage a few percent (compared to force field, once fully slotted, making it so the mob missed 90-95% of the time).
Damn I will miss this game.
It was literally the FIRST MMO I was forced(yes forced) to play(when it first came out). I was like "Not FPS, not interested". Got a buddy code, made a blaster and damn it was good(if a bit squishy).
Once you mention it, Yeah the combat was always very fast. Maybe that is why it never felt like a grind.
I found a general shift towards making the game too easy after AE came out tho.
In response to wildkittens quote:
"What these people (person) needs to understand is just about any business requires a minimum profit margin to consider a product successful. Even if CoH is making a profit, if the profit isn't much compared to the capital put into the game, that can indeed be seen as unsustainable."
There is one word that defines profit it not enough - that word is GREED.